Sunday, January 26, 2014

West Ukrainian Kvarg Cheese Cake Recipe

West Ukrainian Cheese Cake

If there was a ‘worlds ugliest cake’ competition, this will win, hands down.  Photos like this shouldn't even be allowed on the internet. I guess you would never guess that this is a cheesecake. It looks more like something that came from outer space. But it tastes good.

The recipe uses quark instead of cream cheese. The quark I used had 0.3% fat, so it’s a relatively low fat dessert. It also uses semolina instead of regular flour. You can see the semolina grains in the photo below.

West Ukrainian Cheese Cake

680 grams (1½ lb) quark (fresh farmers cheese)
4 eggs, separated
100 grams (3½ oz) of butter, melted
¾ cup of sugar
2 tablespoons semolina
Juice of half a small lemon
½ teaspoon of vanilla sugar

1.      Heat oven to 190°C/375°F
2.      Beat egg whites until it doubles in volume. Slowly add half of the sugar and keep beating the egg whites until sugar has dissolved.
3.      In a separate bowl mix together egg yolks and the rest of the sugar until the sugar has dissolved
4.      Add quark to the egg yolk mixture and mix well.
5.      Add the rest of the ingredients except the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and mix well.
6.      Fold in the egg white mixture and add to a greased baking pan
7.      Bake at 190°C/375°F for 15 minutes
8.      Reduce the temperature to 175°C/350°F and bake for a further 45 minutes
9.      Turn the heat off and let cake cool down till room temperature inside the oven. Don’t open the oven. Once cooled, remove cake from the baking pan and refrigerate.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kyrgyz Style Gamburger (Гамбургер) Recipe

This is not really a recipe post!

In Russian language, ‘h’ is replaced by ‘g’ so hamburger becomes gamburger. If you happen to be in Kyrgyzstan, feel homesick and order a gamburger, you will be in for a shock. Here’s a cross section view.


The dominant flavor in the gamburger is mayo laden coleslaw, with subtle flavors of well done meat and French fries. And you get all of this from one bite. 

If you are not in Kyrgyzstan and anxious to create the gamburger experience, here’s how:
1.      Smother both halves of a burger bun with mayonnaise and ketchup.  Ideally the bun should be either dry or moist with a very chewy crust. For the authentic experience use factory mayonnaise.
2.      Place some French fries on the bottom half of the bun. French fries go in the burger, not on the side. Use less than 10 fries.
3.      Top the fries with well done kebab meat, a relatively small amount for a subtle flavor. About 20-30 grams should be enough. Type of meat should remain a mystery.
4.      Top the meat with a generous amount of mayo laden coleslaw. You should be able to get close to your daily recommended vegetable intake.
5.      Throw in some cucumber slices for crunch and your gamburger is ready to rock and roll.

If your gamburger tastes like a hamburger, or tastes meaty, you have done something wrong. Start over again.

In Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, there are hundreds of "gamburger" stands. I bought mine from the one below and it set me back by 55 soms (US$1.12). 


In recent years a couple of ‘regular’ hamburgers chains have made an appearance. These chains use meat patties, topped with cheese if ordered, and fries are served on the side. They do things the boring old fashioned way! The price of a hamburger and gamburger is comparable. My guess is that gamburgers have a larger market share. 

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